Philippians 2: 1-18
There are rare times when high theology and practical faith intersect perfectly in a passage of scripture. That is the case with the passage in this month's Season 2, Episode 6 podcast episode of "The Himalayas of the New Testament."
Since Philippians is an easy letter to understand because it is so relatable to us today, I have chosen as the podcast image a picture of the sixth highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyu. Just 12 miles west of Mt. Everest in the Himalayas, Cho Oyu is known as one of the easier mountains to climb, despite its peak of nearly 27,000 feet.
In this episode, I look at Paul's quotation of an early church hymn that has highlighted some of the most argued principles of the early Christian faith. Surrounding that quote are two very practical pieces of advice to the church at Philippi in the midst of its squabbling.
The famous quote of what is believed to be an early hymn comes in Philippians 2: 5-11:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
First, the theological side. Seminarians and academics have used this passage as a gateway to discussing topics with high brow words such as hypostatic union, kenotic theory, and ontological and functional views of the Holy Trinity. Whew! In the podcast, I break down what those mean in simple terms - basically, they are associated with Jesus' full divinity and full humanity, co-existing.
Paul, however, doesn't toss these lyrics out to the Philippians to discuss theology. He is interested in the practical view, the fact that the Philippians have some disagreements that are getting personal. So before and after this passage, Paul is urging them to a couple of things.
First, to pursue unity through the use of humility. When we act like Christ, as humble servants, we become unifying rather than divisive forces. Paul asks them to be humble in their community in order to resolve differences.
Second, when we become Christ-like, we have the opportunity to shine as lights in the world's darkness.
I expand on these thoughts in the podcast, along with this thought: What Paul wrote to the Philippians, he might well write to the Church in America, if he were to write a letter today! We have allowed disunity and divisiveness to overtake us, and as a result, we have impaired our ability to shine like stars. Paul's ultimate solution is for us to follow Christ's example in our practical, daily living and interactions.
As I said, theology and practicality intersect in this selection of 18 verses. I hope you'll listen to this podcast to get a richer meaning of what I'm talking about and apply it to your own situations.
This is the first of two podcasts on the brief letter to the Philippians. Selections from Chapter 4 will be covered in the January podcast.
To find my podcasts, please search for "Cecil Taylor Monthly Podcasts" on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, and on Podbean.com. You can also always access my podcasts by starting at CecilTaylorMinistries.com/free-content or by starting at my home page and clicking "Free Content" in the top ribbon. I produce podcasts during the first third of every month.